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Join the fight against breast cancer this month


October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to honor the many who have died while remembering that early detection is key to preventing more deaths. October is an excellent time to have a mammogram or to make an appointment to get one.

To join in the fight against breast cancer, we encourage readers to visit the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer page, at bit.ly/31fsYPY, and give generously to this life-saving organization.

In 2018, the ACS:

• Provided cancer patients with some 480,000 free rides to and from treatment.

• Helped 34,000 patients better understand their diagnoses and make informed decisions about their care.

• Provided one-on-one support to 6,700 breast cancer patients.

Breast cancer occurs when cells grow beyond their normal bounds. The cancer can then metastasize — that is, spread through the blood or lymph systems to other parts of the body.

The average age of diagnosis for breast cancer is 62, though experts recommend that women begin having annual mammograms at age 45, and as early as 40 for women with histories of breast cancer in their families.

Though the symptoms can be different for everyone, some of the most common include:

• A lump, knot or thickening under the breast or in the underarm area.

• Swelling, redness or darkening of the breast.

• Change in a breast’s size or shape.

• An itchy, scaly sore or rash on the nipple.

• A pulling-in or retraction of the nipple or other parts of the breast.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 41,000 American women will die of breast cancer this year. Roughly 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with the illness in their lifetime.

Long Island has been particularly hard hit by the disease, and the reasons are not well understood. But it will take all of us, acting together, to eradicate it.